Autism Awareness: What Should Parents Do Next If Their Child Is Diagnosed With Autism Spectrum Disorder?

By Amanda Moore, Parent Herald March 29, 04:00 am

It's natural for parents to feel fear and grief after receiving an autism diagnosis for their child. The diagnosis, however, is important and helpful because parents now have a better understanding of their son or daughter. They can use this knowledge to chart the next phases for helping their child receive effective service and support.

After processing the news from doctors, the first thing parents must do is to educate themselves. Learning more about the child's condition can help quash the fear and apprehensions. Read books, research about doctors and specialists and look at different types of therapies for options. Parents can turn to various autism groups online for support and information, such as the National Autism Association, Autism Speaks, Autism Now, Autism Cares Foundation and Parent Coaching for Autism.

Enlist the child in therapies. A child with autism who begins his behavioral, educational or medical therapies sooner increases his chances of improvement in the later years. Early intervention benefits the child's progress, but parents must understand that the process and outcomes are different and specific for every child.

Experts recommend early intervention year-round therapies for 25 hours per week, as per Miami Herald. Look into free screenings and psychological evaluations from services like Early Steps to determine which therapies best fit the child.

Prepare for health care expenses. Parents can choose to pay out of pocket or avail of a health insurance plan covering the cost of therapies.

It would also help if parents read up on the rights and laws involving people with special needs in both federal and state levels. Look into school district programs, as per Kohl's Cares. Among these include the Individualized Education Program (IEP), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).

Prepare for big changes and establish routine activities and schedules. Children with autism thrive better in a consistent environment. Keep disruptions to their routines as minimal as possible.

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